Saliva test enables thoughtful testing – Animals & Plants News

Researchers at McMaster University have developed a new form of rapid testing to detect infections in farm animals, in response to the growing threat of serious disease outbreaks.

The prototype has proven effective in detecting devastating diarrheal infections in pigs that were first identified in Canada in 2014, and can be adapted to test for other pathogens and other animals.

The test, created by biochemist Yingfu Li, engineer Leyla Soleymani and their colleagues, uses a small sample of saliva to detect chemical signs of infection.

It uses technology similar to a test format that the same research team recently created to detect COVID and other infections in humans. Human testing is now heading to the market with public research funding and corporate support.

Animal experiments, once they become widely available, should be a valuable tool for identifying and isolating outbreaks on farms, and for reducing the possibility of transmission from animals to humans, which may be the source of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Epidemics often require the euthanasia of entire herds, sometimes with serious economic and environmental consequences. Canada is a major producer of pork, with 14 million pigs on 7,600 farms.

He told me: “There is really a clear need for this technology. There are many reasons why everyone – even people who don’t eat pork – care about animal infection control.”

The work was published today in the influential German scientific journal Angewandte Chemie, which he identified as “a very important element” – a specific and rare distinction. The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

The co-authors of Lee and Soleimani for this article are Amanda Victorious, Ziggy Zhang, Dengran Chang, Roderick MacLachlan, Richa Pandey, Jianrun Shea, Jimmy Jo and Todd Hoare.

The new test could be an important step forward in the One Health concept, and the growing understanding of the interdependence between human and animal health and the ecosystem.

Creating such technology is part of McMaster’s broader global mission to epidemics and biological threats.

Researchers designed the aptamer-based test to be portable, accurate and rapid, allowing veterinarians and other animal caretakers to quickly identify, isolate, and treat infected animals.

The test works by mixing a small sample of saliva with a chemical reagent and applying the mixture to a small chip reader, which in turn is connected to a smartphone, which displays the results within minutes.

After consulting with experts in the field, the researchers chose to create the first animal test for epidemic swine diarrhoea, a serious viral threat that can rapidly spread to entire farms.

One of the biggest technical challenges in developing the test over the past four years has been extracting the chemical fingerprint of infection from thick and often contaminated pig saliva, using samples collected by veterinary collaborators.

“The challenge here is that the samples we get from animal swabs are much less pure than those we get from humans,” Soleimani said. “You can’t tell a pig to rinse its mouth before you wipe it, so we had to adapt our process to meet those challenges.”

Story source:

Material provided by McMaster University. Original by Wade Hemsworth. Note: Content can be modified according to style and length.

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